West: Wheat crops unsown as ‘to do’ list still incomplete

With constant rain in recent weeks and Christmas not far away, the ‘to-do’ list on many of our farms is still far from being completed.

Some wheat crops remain unsown, and any temptation to ‘maul’ it in is being resisted. We all know it’s not worth it. The earliest sown cereals are now well tillered, and many barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) treatments still need to be completed.

Mild weather has increased the risk of virus this autumn, and it will also have reduced the persistence of insecticide seed dressings. The dressings do appear to have helped to reduce frit fly damage in cereal crops this autumn.

Some pre-emergence herbicide treatments were unable to be applied in time – again due to wet weather. They will now have to  be post – emergence treatments – and resultant grassweed control will inevitably be reduced.

Most wheat crops were treated with pre-emergence herbicide mixes based on flufenacet and grassweed control appears to be reasonable. Drier weather may allow some Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) treatments on forward fields where residual blackgrass is present at the 1-2 leaf stage. The applications need to be made before crop cover prevents spray coverage – not usually a problem in November.

A significant area of winter beans – all Wizard – has now been drilled. Most of these crops were sprayed pre-emergence, but again – despite best intentions –  warm and wet soil conditions meant that in some fields the beans emerged before the planned herbicide could be applied. These fields will get a revised mix of carbetamide when conditions allow.

Winter rape crops continue to grow well and thankfully the later emerged ones are big enough to face the onset of winter. Phoma can easily be found, and so fungicides will be included with propyzamide treatments for grassweed control. These mixes will be applied soon – now that the soil has cooled down.

Hopefully, most rape crops can then be put to bed for the winter. They seem to have taken up a disproportionate amount of management time and expense this autumn. Let’s hope that end product prices rise and allow a positive outcome.

Charlock and runch are evident in many rape crops. Bifenox will need to be applied as soon the crop leaves wax up – it’s been too mild so far. So a spell of cooler, but dry, settled weather is high on our ‘wish- list’ as we head towards December.

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